Even before the new strategy was finalized, the foundation was thinking about how best to measure progress and impact and hold itself accountable. The Organizational Learning and Effectiveness (OLE) team was formed in 2020 to help guide the staff to think differently about how we measure the outcomes of our work and where learning plays into our understanding of progress and success, with ultimate accountability to the communities that are served. Historically, the foundation’s measures of success focused on what was accomplished and, in some cases, how well it was accomplished. Under the new strategy, these outcome measures are being supplemented with two additional questions important for the new strategy: How effectively are we showing up as funders? And what impact did our actions have?
The foundation’s strategic approach is being applied to our objective-setting and learning approaches, which connect learning, performance and accountability. Our learning practices, in particular, have built-in flexibility and quarterly opportunities for reflection. As a board and staff, our team is trying to answer the impact question in a highly practical way, putting in place practices that allow for just-in-time assessment of progress and allow for change. These practices give teams the opportunity to pause, assess progress (or a lack thereof), share learnings and make decisions about what needs to adapt and shift. We see learning as not just a process but also an important outcome of our ongoing adaptive work. Our next step in measuring progress and impact is to focus on collecting, sharing and using data to inform what we do and how we engage as a funder.